“I wished for you too.”
-Practical Magic


7. Chapter Seven

Sophie’s mom was flitting about her living room like a maniac hummingbird. It had taken hours to finish with the police station, and the woman had been desperate to get her daughter back home to get the real story. Sophie very well couldn’t tell the police that she thought she was only missing for a few hours when, in fact, it had been several days. Or at least she couldn’t tell them without requiring a psych evaluation. Sophie’s mom had to do a bit of her own magic just to get the girl out of there, and they’d immediately rushed back to her apartment above the tarot shop.

Sophie was sitting on the couch wrapped in a knitted blanket even though she wasn’t actually cold anymore. Her mother had insisted and had shoved a hot cup of soothing herbal tea in her hands as soon as she sat down. Phil was content that Sophie was unharmed and was napping in a patch of sunlight that was filtering through many sun catchers.

“A black dog,” her mother was muttering to herself as she jumped back and forth between books. She had given a great deal of her collection to Sophie when they parted ways, but her book collection never seemed to stop growing. The shelf itself spanned the entirety of a wall from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. And now it looked as though she’d already run out of room. Books were piled on the floor, the chairs, and the tables. Anywhere there was a flat surface, there was at least one book.

“There are so many different kinds of black dogs,” she was saying as she pulled out another thick book and began furiously turning pages.

Sophie was almost the spitting image of her mother. They had the same wildly curly hair, which her mother fondly referred to as “Hermione's hair.” They had the same sharp hazel eyes and small round faces. But Sophie seemed to take her father’s attitude, which her mother decided was very fitting.

The girl quietly sipped her tea as she watched her mother fret. She opened the book to its section on black dogs and then plopped right down to the floor right there beneath the bookshelves. Her long curly hair bounced in the movement, and she crossed her legs like a child at story time. Only she was wearing a pair of shorts that were so short they were almost underwear, and she had at least three pairs of every piece of jewelry a person could have. Multiple necklaces, bracelets almost up to her elbows, several earrings in various holes (including hoops that draped across her bare shoulders), even a few cords wrapped around her ankles, and a nose ring for good measure.

“Black dogs are spectral,” she was saying. “But you said it looked solid.”

“I know what it was, Mom,” Sophie said, moving a few books aside so she could set her mug down on the table. The woman looked up at her daughter. Her curls were messy, and her sharp eyes were reddened and tired from the days without sleep. “It was a Black Shuck.” The woman squinted.

“But Black Shucks are native to Great Britain. They don’t come this far overseas. Ever.” Sophie shrugged.

“That’s what it was. I know I couldn’t use my magic, but I could just—tell.”

“Why? Because of the glowing eyes?”

“That’s part of it. And it was ancient. So old and—vast—like the universe. And it didn’t feel entirely—malevolent.” Her mother gave her a serious look then.

“It chased you through the woods for three days.”

“But maybe I wasn’t in the woods. I must have crossed over into some other realm. It wasn’t Faerie because that place is stuffed full of magic. But it wasn’t here. It was—an entirely different forest. And I’m pretty sure the dog summoned me there. And Black Shucks like to hang around graveyard’s right?”

“That’s what they say, but it’s been so long since anyone’s seen one.” Sophie took a deep breath and sighed heavily.

“Regardless of what it was—you know what it means, don’t you?” Her mother shut the book and stood to her bare feet again.

“No,” she said. But it wasn’t spoken in answer to Sophie’s question, just in rejection of it.

“I don’t want it to be either, but black dogs have always represented it. If it’s a Black Shuck or a Hellhound. Either way—it means death is coming.”

“That’s not true,” her mother snapped. She turned back around to face her daughter. She took a deep breath and shook her hands out, ridding herself of whatever magic she’d built up in her anger. “Black dogs aren’t always omens of death, Sophie,” she said slowly. “Sometimes black dogs are just black dogs.” Sophie shook her head.

“It wasn’t just a regular black dog, Mom. It was too large, had glowing eyes, cut me off from magic, and—I could feel it—jumping around me. Poof, on the left. Poof, on the right. It was chaotic and everywhere. But it knew exactly what it was doing. It was intelligent.”

“Maybe it was a familiar,” she suggested. Sophie shook her head.

“A familiar? You think?” She watched her mother turn her eyes on the cat where he sat twitching his tail in the sunlight. His eyes were shut, and he looked content, but it was evident he was listening by the angle of his ears and the swish of his tail.

“We don’t know anything about familiars. We know more about the stars than we do about familiars. They can be almost anything,” she explained. “Cats, owls, bats, ravens, snakes, toads, even dogs.” Sophie shook her head.

“Even if it was a familiar—it was stronger than anything I’ve felt before. I have no doubt it was a Black Shuck, and I obviously don’t want to die—but it was stronger than any familiar I’ve ever met before.” Her mother nodded slowly before turning her head sharply toward the door.

“Your leech friend is here,” she said.

“Fangs, as I like to call him.” She gave a half laugh and turned toward the bookcase again as a tap came from the door. Sophie stood to answer it, and just as her mother told her, Rory the bloodsucker was standing in the hall. Though he seemed almost too tall and long to fit in through the doorway.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Sophie replied as she waved him into the house. He hesitated.

“Your mom kind of has to…” he started. Sophie almost laughed.

“You mean you actually DO have to get permission to enter someone’s house?”

“Well, on top of it being proper etiquette, yes.”

“How’d you get into my house before then?”

“Your friend’s mom let me in earlier that day. I brought her baked goods. My mom says that’s what you’re supposed to give your neighbors when you move into a new place.” Sophie snorted a laugh again and then turned to her mom.

“Have him take you home,” she said, barely acknowledging him. “I’ll call you when I find something.” Sophie sighed and pulled the blanket off of her shoulders.

“I hope you drove because I really don’t want to travel by bat.” He seemed momentarily offended by her mother's behavior but brushed it off quickly.

“You’re in luck. My other ride is a car,” he said.

“I’ll talk to you later, Mom.”

“Be careful,” she replied.



I just wrote this. Hmm, yes.

I brought the Black Shuck into the story literally just because I saw a black dog and I was like "Yes." So I did some research on black dogs and I decided the Black Shuck fit my idea the best.

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